Thursday, October 29, 2009

Remembering Chet Baker in New York

Baker’s long list of recorded music, from the time he left Mulligan’s quartet, and distinctive qualities of his style have given him an extremely effective aura of being a victim of circumstances that governed the scene in America after the war. Among the white jazz musicians who were involved with injuries inflicted upon post-war rebellious generation of young American intellectuals, Baker was not the only person who was experiencing drugs and addiction inside an obviously reactionary society. A society that was immediately consolidating boundaries of conservatism, was nothing especially designed for Baker; all his fellow musicians were in the same trap: Pepper, Mulligan, McLean, Holman and Manne .

The present recording, unlike anything else he’d done up to 1958, gave him a chance to come out of that dark cloud Zoot Sims described many years later. He joined forces with east coast junkies like Philly Jo Jones and Art Blakey, representatives of eastern “hard” style. He tried to find an outlet from the Catholicism of the west coast. Manny Albam did it also: he wrote an exemplary piece of music that reflected the feeling of these young white cats who could not cope with the dreadful reality and mediocrity of the American society, a society that would enjoy Pat Boone more than “bird”; one that would pay heed to Eisenhower rather than to Stevenson... Etc.

--by ARP

Chet Baker Quartet
Chet Baker In New York
(Riverside RLP 12-281, RLP 1119; Fantasy OJC 207, OJCCD 207-2)

Chet Baker (tp) Johnny Griffin (ts -1,3,5) Al Haig (p) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
NYC, September, 1958

1. Fair Weather
2. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
3. Hotel 49
4. Solar
5. Blue Thoughts
6. When Lights Are Low
7. Soft Winds
Total Time 43:02

1 comment:

  1. Ali-Reza, thanks for your thoughtful comments. However, as an American who lived through that era, I think you give Chet too much credit for a political weltanschauung. The early Beats - and Chet falls into that camp - may have rejected the conformity of the post-war years, but in many cases that was driven simply by the thrill of living beyond the edge. I doubt very much that Baker, Twardzik, Pepper and others linked theconventions of the Eisenhower era to geopolitical considerations. They just didn't care...